OPINION

Kindness of strangers brings joy amid coronavirus despair

Jessica Kremp created a 'street pantry' outside her home in Richardson last June but has seen residents' generosity rise recently. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Jessica Kremp created a 'street pantry' outside her home in Richardson last June but has seen residents' generosity rise recently. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

It's easy to dwell on the dark side of human nature when you live online, confined as I am to my flat just in case I brought the virus back from Europe a week ago.

But it's far better to rejoice in the signs of abundant goodness which are emerging as the cursed plague threatens to addle our minds.

Forget the selfish on Bondi beach or in the local supermarket.

Notice, instead, the countless quiet good deeds done by ordinary people.

Rejoice at the people on the balconies in France, Spain and Italy who sing to their neighbours in the apartments above and below.

Across courtyards, they pump accordions and bang tambourines and saucepans, raising their voices in unity and lifting the spirits.

Salute the Italian tenor who every evening serenades quarantined Florence, the most serene city with pestilence on the streets.

The spreaders of joy through song.

And the man in Toulouse who has run a marathon on his balcony a mere seven metres long - back and forth, I calculate, 6029 times.

But it's not just defiant heroism on the other side of the world. It's closer to home - very close to home.

All around us there are good people. Here I sit in my cell, with another week of isolation to go, and food parcels just turn up on the step.

Colleagues have become friends. The danger for me now is obesity from their roast chicken, cheese, cheesecake, biscuits, muffins, sausage stew, potatoes, more cheese, more biscuits, more calories.

I have had offers of food from strangers. A person I met a year ago emailed to say: "If you are stuck for food please let me know and I can drop some off for you." (She suggests a pet but I shall pass on that).

Nessun Dorma.

Small gestures go a long way in dark times. A friend is now greeted with a "good morning" in the corridor of the apartment block where once chilly, unfriendly silence reigned.

At Australian Community Media, of which Mandurah Mail is a part, we are constantly told of gestures which lift the spirit. Letters to the editor come in testifying to generosity in our communities.

A lady told us she looked for toilet paper in vain on the shelves of the supermarket but when she got to the check-out some had been left for her: "The gentleman had taken it from his own trolley after he paid for it."

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A man told us a stranger came up to him and his wife in Aldi and said: "Here, take mine, we have enough at home to last a while."

Over east, a mother and her daughter started a "street pantry" for the homeless - and others suddenly started keeping it well-stocked.

In this terrible time, it seems to me we need to rise and choose goodness. It sounds pompous but it's true. It's a choice, a decision.

Social isolation has been a struggle for Steve Evans but the kindness of strangers is bringing hope. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Social isolation has been a struggle for Steve Evans but the kindness of strangers is bringing hope. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Everybody enjoys a moan. Social media gives us a great feeling of superiority over idiots fighting for toilet rolls.

But this virus in our midst has yet to wreak the damage it can and will do.

There may well be terrible choices if it can't be slowed. It will be tempting to lash out and blame those who refuse to keep their distance because they imagine it won't reach them.

But we should stick together. Rejoice in new friends.

Get on a balcony and sing.

  • For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
  • You can also call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
  • If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000)